UF/IFAS Extension Duval County Tree Stewards is a program designed to provide a volunteer workforce dedicated to pruning and trimming young trees on city and state green spaces. Often, young trees are not trained or pruned correctly, creating problems in the future when they become overgrown. Tree Steward volunteers attend an intensive 20-hour training course, conducted by UF/IFAS Extension faculty, in specialized topics such as pruning, selection, diagnosis, planting, and invasive species control. In 2014, 21 volunteers were trained with funding through a U.S. Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry grant. To complete the training, Tree Steward graduates are required to demonstrate proficiency with an on-site evaluation of their pruning at a local park. After graduating from the training program, Tree Steward volunteers go to work by holding three pruning workdays at three local Jacksonville parks. More than 80 small (under 30 ft) trees were pruned by Tree Steward volunteers in 2014. Structural defects in these trees were also corrected, improving public safety and increasing the likelihood that the trees will grow to be structurally sound.
A Duval County Tree Stewards volunteer trims a tree limb at a park near Jacksonville. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones